Don’t change so someone will like you. Be yourself and the right ones will love the real you.
by: Marc ChernoffWill the people in your life always support your decisions? No, they won’t. But you need to remember that life is not about justifying yourself; it’s about creating yourself. Your life is yours alone. Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you. They can walk with you, but not in your shoes. So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to walk alone and pave your own path when you know it’s the right thing to do.
Make this your lifelong motto: “I respectfully do not care.” Say it to anyone who passes judgment on something you strongly believe in or something that makes you who you are. People will inevitable judge you at some point anyway, and that’s OK. You affected their life; don’t let them affect yours.
And when you need a quick reminder or a dose of encouragement, refer to this list of things you shouldn’t have to justify to anyone else:
- Why you’re putting yourself first. – During a 2011 television interview, Michelle Obama was asked if she thought it was at all selfish that she has openly admitted to making herself her first priority, to which the First Lady replied, “No, not at all. It’s practical…. a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my children is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.” Spot on advice if you ask me! There are only a few people in this world who will stay 100% true to you, and YOU should be one of them. Prioritize your own needs into your daily to-do’s.
- The need to express your emotions. – Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. There’s no reason to be ashamed for feeling something or acting out on it if it’s real to you. It’s a sign that you have a big heart, and that you aren’t afraid to let others know it. Showing your emotions is a sign of human strength. The people who judge you for being human, and not being modest, emotionless, and “in line,” are the ones who need to apologize.
- Your weirdness. – Where’s your will to be weird? Where’s your resolution to be real? Truth be told, it’s not weird to be weird. Everybody is weird in some way. You must celebrate your individuality and not be embarrassed of it. If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t be ashamed and don’t hide it. (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
- Being unapologetically YOU. – We are never more alive than when we are being brave, and we can’t be brave unless we are willing to take off our masks and be ourselves. It’s about finding the courage to be real. When perfectionism of any kind is driving us, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the backseat driver. Don’t do this to yourself. Let go of trying to be “perfect” in the eyes of others, and just be who you are.
- Not taking things personally. – When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless worrying and suffering. Some people may tell you it’s best to stand up for yourself and fight back, but the best offense is always a good defense. Defend yourself from others by not taking the things they say and do personally. Truth be told, if you take everything personally, you will remain offended for the rest of your life. What other people do is because of them, not you. Period.
- Deciding to forgive. – Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is for those who are confident enough to stand on their own two legs and move forward. In order to move forward, you must know why you felt the way you did, and why you no longer need to feel that way. It’s about accepting the past completely, letting it be, and lifting your spirit with good intentions. Nothing empowers your ability to heal and grow as much as your love and forgiveness.
- Who you choose to spend your time with. – In the end, the best investment of your limited time on Earth will be to spend it with people you love. Although it’s perhaps conceivable that you may lie on your deathbed someday regretting that you didn’t work harder and check every little thing off your to-do list, it’s doubtful that your work will be your biggest concern. What’s more likely, however, is that you will wish you could have one more romantic night with your spouse, another long, heartfelt talk with your sister, and one last good hard laugh with your best friend. Life is too short to be too busy for the people you love.
- Not perfectly measuring up to everyone else’s progress. – Don’t compare your progress in life with that of others. We all need our own time to travel our own distance. In fact, two of the most amazing couples I know didn’t meet each other until they were in their late 30’s. One of these couples just had their first child in their early 40’s. The lesson here is simple: Great things in life don’t happen when society tells you they’re supposed to happen – they happen when they’re meant to be. So remember, you don’t have to make excuses about why you aren’t married with children, or working a traditional 8-5 job, or making a certain amount of money, etc. Our lives are not all meant to be scripted the same exact way.
- Why you have failed, and why you aren’t scared to fail again. – Failure is the opportunity to begin again, smarter than before. Forget what others have told you. Fail often, fail fast, clean it up, learn from it, move on, and then repeat. Just because things didn’t work out for you today, doesn’t mean there’s not something big in store for you tomorrow. Rest easy and get ready. Don’t waste your energy justifying yourself to the naysayers. (Read The Success Principles.)
- The young-minded, foolish things you once did. – I don’t entirely approve of some of the things I have done in my life. But I am me. And I would not be me if I hadn’t learned along the way. The same is true for you. All wise old people were once young and foolish; that’s how they became wise. Don’t be ashamed of who you had to be to get to where you are today.
- Dressing down and not looking all fixed up every second. – Angel and I have helped thousands of coaching clients overcome self-esteem issues, and physical appearance almost always has something to do with it. As a client we coached this morning put it, “Whenever I leave the house looking anything less than airbrushed and fashionable and then run into someone I know, I tend to feel the need to apologize for not looking a certain way.” That’s ludicrous! You don’t have to apologize to someone else for not looking a certain way; you have to apologize to yourself for feeling like you had to in the first place.
- Your healthy eating habits. – Too often our culture associates healthy eating habits with fad diets and weight loss marketing schemes. But there’s also something called healthy eating as a means to actual good health, not weight loss, not some crazy diet, or anything else. Why do we need to stand up for ourselves when we choose to eat healthy? Because for some reason, people tend to be skeptical that a person would actually just want to treat their body right and not be perpetually concerned with their shape and size. Eat healthy because it’s good for your health. Ignore the critics.
- Working extra hard on your dreams. – When people try to inspire you, they’ll often tell you all kinds of sensible and heartfelt things like: “Follow your dreams. Listen to your heart. Find your inner voice and let it sing. Change the world. Make your mark. Embrace your challenges. Keep dreaming big. Dream some more. In fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.” And all of this is fine and dandy, but the problem is a lot of people dream… and that’s all they do. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really remarkable, passionate, and powerful people, are busy doing something with their dreams. Be one of them.
- Choosing to smile through your struggles. – Not every day will be good, but there will be something good about every day. Notice it. Ignore the negativity around you. None of us know the exact paths we will travel or the trials that will come our way. The secret is to find joy in the journey. The more obstacles you overcome, the stronger you become. Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving; you just get stronger and more resilient. Smiling and appreciating each step you take is the smartest choice. Your positivity will help you realize that sometimes the bad things that happen in your life put you on a direct path to the best possible things that could ever happen to you. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- The things you hope for. – They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. I couldn’t agree more. We all do a lot of talking about the importance of the first two, but don’t forget to nurture your hope too. And remember, hope isn’t the belief that life will always give you what you want; it’s the belief that life will gradually reveal what’s right.
- Why you feel completely justified already. – You don’t need a standing ovation or a bestseller or a promotion or a million bucks. You are enough right now. You have nothing to justify. Care less about who you are to others and more about who you are to yourself. You will have less heartaches and disappointments the minute you stop seeking from others the justification only YOU can give yourself.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
Do more than just exist! We all exist. The question is: Do you live?